A special photo of the Notre Dame High baseball team is hanging on a wall of Tom Dill’s office. This one was taken in Sept. 2016, right after Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident.
When news of the fatal crash reached the Sherman Oaks campus, Notre Dame’s head baseball coach dressed every player in his program – freshmen to seniors, JV to varsity – in a Marlins shirt bearing Fernandez’s number 16. The players lined up in three rows of about 20 each. A photographer captured the moment from an elevated perch.
Dill kept one copy of the photo for himself. He sent another to his star pupil, Giancarlo Stanton, who was mourning 3,000 miles away from home.
“When a guy represents your school in good character, I thought, I want to do something right now,” Dill said. “That was a nice moment. And my guys wrote him letters, a box full of letters.”
Giancarlo Stanton might never become a Dodger, the team he rooted for growing up. He almost did a decade ago and he seems to have a chance now. The Marlins are trying so aggressively to trade him, some teams received permission from Major League Baseball to meet Stanton personally to discuss a potential deal. The Dodgers were not among those teams.
Still, Stanton’s connection to his home town remains strong. He lives in Southern California in the offseason. His immediate family lives in the area too. When the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals were recently granted an audience with the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, the meetings were reportedly held in Los Angeles.
The photograph Dill sent Stanton was not unrequited. Each of the last two years, Dill said, Stanton has supplied the Notre Dame baseball team with equipment from his sponsor, Nike.
It’s no wonder that the Dodgers would be Stanton’s first (if not his only) choice to waive the no-trade clause in his contract, which guarantees a total of $325 million – the most ever for an MLB player.
If he does not choose to opt out of his contract after the 2020 season, Stanton is still owed a minimum of $295 million. The Dodgers had baseball’s highest player payroll in 2017, reportedly totaling $244 million. They would have to get creative to simultaneously lower that number and absorb Stanton’s 2018 salary of $25 million. So far, the Giants and Cardinals are the only teams reported to receive permission to meet with him.
The last time teams came to Southern California to visit Stanton, the field…